Complaint filed at CIAA over PMO contract to Huawei agent

Published On: January 2, 2019 04:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 2: A complaint has been filed at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against the government's decision to award Chinese telecommunications firm China Communication Service, an agent of IT giant Huawei, the contract for installing a video conferencing system at the Prime Minister's Office without open competition and in a non-transparent fashion.

The video conferencing system is being set up for the 'war room' at the PMO for responding promptly to issues related to governance.

The complaint registered by the Patriotic Independent Citizens Group states that the decision to pick the Chinese company for installing the video system at a sensitive government office will hugely compromise the national interest and security issues. Arguing that awarding the contract to the Chinese company without any biding under public procurement rules was against the law, the group has demanded a probe into the matter and action against those involved .

The complainant group has argued that the PMO cancelled a tender call issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in October and awarded the Chinese firm through direct negotiations, all under pressure from Bishnu Rimal, chief political advisor to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and from the PM's honorary IT advisor, Asgar Ali.

The ministry had called for tender bids for the video conference system through a public notice on October 12 after the government allocated Rs 60 million for the purpose. The government, however, cancelled the open tender call after Ali and Rimal's son Kshitiz Rimal visited China. Huawei had reportedly failed to meet the specifications mentioned in the tender call.

IT advisor Ali, Rimal Junior and Hari Prasad Pokharel, a computer engineer working at the PMO, had visited Huawei headquarters while in China, according to the complaint registered at the anti-graft body.

“The move by the PMO has breached procurement protocols and procedures as stated in the Public Procurement Act-2007 and Public Procurement Rules-2007…” states the complaint.

It also states that the Chinese firm had not submitted the manufacture authorization letter while submitting its quotation to the PMO. The manufacture authorization letter, according to the complaint, was submitted afterwards with help from officials at the PMO.

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